Monday, April 22, 2013

Precautionary Principle

My friend Renee and I were talking about this yesterday so I did a little research ...

From Wikipedia ...

  • One of the primary foundations of the precautionary principle, and globally accepted definitions, results from the work of the Rio Conference, or "Earth Summit" in 1992. Principle #15 of the Rio Declaration notes:
"In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capabilities. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation."

  •   ... an implicit reversal of the onus of proof: under the precautionary principle it is the responsibility of an activity proponent to establish that the proposed activity will not (or is very unlikely to) result in significant harm.
  • The application of the precautionary principle is hampered by both lack of political will, as well as the wide range of interpretations placed on it. One study identified 14 different formulations of the principle in treaties and nontreaty declarations.[7] R.B. Stewart (2002)[8] reduced the precautionary principle to four basic versions:

  1. Scientific uncertainty should not automatically preclude regulation of activities that pose a potential risk of significant harm (Non-Preclusion PP).
  2. Regulatory controls should incorporate a margin of safety; activities should be limited below the level at which no adverse effect has been observed or predicted (Margin of Safety PP).
  3. Activities that present an uncertain potential for significant harm should be subject to best technology available requirements to minimize the risk of harm unless the proponent of the activity shows that they present no appreciable risk of harm (BAT PP).
  4. Activities that present an uncertain potential for significant harm should be prohibited unless the proponent of the activity shows that it presents no appreciable risk of harm (Prohibitory PP).

A Few Buckminster Fuller Quotes and my reflections (in Green)

[Design Science is] the effective application of the principles of science to
the conscious design of our total environment in order to help make the
Earth's finite resources meet the needs of all humanity without disrupting the
ecological processes of the planet.

--- R. Buckminster Fuller

The last part of the above quote ... "make the Earth's finite resources meet the needs ..." Sounds very much like the Brundtland Commission's definition of sustainability, which coined what has become the most often-quoted definition of sustainable development: "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

It is not for me to change you.  The question is, how can I be of service
to you without diminishing your degrees of freedom?

--- R. Buckminster Fuller

My own working assumption of why we are here is that we are here as
local-Universe information-gatherers and that we are given access to the
divine design principles so that we can therefrom objectively invent
instruments and tools -- e.g., the microscope and the telescope --
with which to extend all sensorial inquiring regarding the rest of
the to-the-naked-eye-invisible, micro-macro Universe, because human
beings, tiny though we are, are here for all the local-Universe
information-harvesting and cosmic-principle-discovering, objective
tool-inventing, and local-environment-controlling as local Universe
problem-solvers in support of the integrity of eternally regenerative

--- R. Buckminster Fuller

And the summary version below. I like the short one for brevity but the long one for the filler detail.

We are most probably here for local information-gathering and
local-Universe problem-solving in support of the integrity of eternally
regenerative Universe.

--- R. Buckminster

We humans are manifestly here for problem-solving and, if we are any good
at problem-solving, we don't come to utopia, we come to more difficult
problems to solve."

--- R. Buckminster Fuller

I live on Earth at present,
and I don't know what I am.
I know that I am not a category.
I am not a thing -- a noun.
I seem to be a verb,
an evolutionary process --
an integral function of the universe.

--- R. Buckminster Fuller

I like the idea of thinking of myself as a Verb.

The most important fact about Spaceship Earth:
an instruction manual didn't come with it.

--- R. Buckminster Fuller

There is something patently insane about all the typewriters sleeping
with all the beautiful plumbing in the beautiful office buildings --
and all the people sleeping in the slums.

--- R. Buckminster Fuller

We are on a spaceship; a beautiful one.  It took billions of years to develop.
We're not going to get another.

--- R. Buckminster Fuller

You can't better the world by simply talking to it. Philosophy
to be effective must be mechanically applied.

--- R. Buckminster Fuller

The case for being a practitioner, a maker, a doer, a published writer, or an artist in a gallery at some point in your life. Also the case for "reflection in action" and "ready, fire aim"

When individuals join in a cooperative venture, the power generated far
exceeds what they could have accomplished acting individually.

--R. Buckminster Fuller

The case for collaboration!!!!

You never change things by fighting the existing reality.  To change
something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

--- R. Buckminster Fuller

Don't fight forces, use them

--- R. Buckminster Fuller

If the Success or Failure of this Planet, and of Human Beings,
Depended on How I Am and What I Do,
How Would I Be?  What Would I Do?

--- R. Buckminster Fuller

A twist on "What would Jesus do?" Or "If you knew you only had a short time to live would you be doing what you're doing today?"

Love is omni-inclusive,
Progressively exquisite,
Understanding and tender
And compassionately attuned
To other than self.

--- R. Buckminster Fuller

There is no such thing as a failed experiment, only experiments
with unexpected outcomes.

--- R. Buckminster Fuller

How can we make the world work for 100 percent of humanity in the shortest
possible time through spontaneous cooperation without ecological damage or
disadvantage to anyone?

--- Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983)

Shortened and combined with concept of sustainability - "How can we make the world work for 100% of humanity, present and future, without disadvantage to anyone or any living thing?

I learned very early and painfully that you have to decide at the outset
whether you are trying to make money or to make sense, as they are mutually

--- R. Buckminster Fuller

How often I found where I should be going only by setting out for
somewhere else.

--- Buckminster Fuller

Making the journey is what it's all about!

The importance of man in the next generation of technical research is very
much greater than in the previous.  The computer cannot ask an original
question.  The computer can only reask questions which were originally asked
by the human brain.  No computer can apprehend the plurality of potentially
significant patterns newly emergent in evolution.  Men will continue and
flourish as the great question askers and exploratory inventors.

--- R. Buckminster Fuller